Resource Hub: Impact and risk metrics

Published on

January 1, 2015

Impact and risk metrics play an important role in efforts by investors, technical assistance providers, certification bodies, and corporations to close the over $400 billion gap between demand for and supply of finance to smallholder farmers. 

Metrics can help demonstrate industry impact, improve operating efficiency, and foster collaboration on industry infrastructure to grow the market. A well-implemented metrics strategy can also help to mitigate reputational risks arising from unintended effects on farmers and their families, communities, or ecosystems.

But the current landscape of smallholder finance impact and risk metrics is crowded with multiple units of analysis, target users, and objectives; it is confusing to industry leaders and daunting to potential new entrants. The Initiative for Smallholder Finance hopes to clarify the space and enable greater collaboration through the tools housed on this page, which are explained in our briefing document, “Smallholder Impact and Risk Metrics: A Labyrinth of Opportunity.”

The first tool, a universal theory of change for smallholder finance, seeks to build a shared vision among ecosystem actors and enable greater collaboration when measuring and reporting impact.

The theory of change allowed us to build the smallholder impact literature review, which aggregates research, trials, and studies on smallholder impact so smallholder agricultural investors can quickly access a growing body of research about the impact of their work.

The theory of change also underpins an interactive Prezi map of the current landscape of smallholder impact and risk assessment tools, which intends to help practitioners quickly identify metrics and data collection tools to report the scale of their impact. You can also find the interactive tutorial here

Smallholder finance theory of change 

This universal theory of change represents an emerging consensus on a common theory of change across the smallholder finance community. The Initiative for Smallholder Finance developed the theory of change based on consultation with leading smallholder agricultural investors, technical assistance experts, certification bodies, commercial agricultural brands, and many of the foundations supporting smallholders. With many actors in the smallholder support community working at different levels of the agricultural value chain, this theory of change helps to create a shared vision for how these efforts combine to promote smallholders’ prosperity and environmental stewardship.

Smallholder impact literature review

The Smallholder Impact Literature Review is a living resource for the smallholder community to capture, organize, and easily access the growing body of literature about smallholder interventions. The review aims to give practitioners quick access to studies on smallholder impact, help practitioners understand the context affecting programs similar to theirs, enable field builders to prioritize research that fills the gaps, and provide a platform for researchers to promote their work. 

To learn more, watch the recording of our webinar, "Five New Technologies to Simplify Data Collection in Smallholder Finance," featuring Acopio (Fair Trade USA), EchoMobile, Geotraceability, Scope Insight, and Taro Works (Grameen Foundation).

About the Author(s)

ISF Advisors
Learning Lab Strategic Partner

ISF is an advisory group committed to transforming rural economies by delivering partnerships and investment structures that promote financial inclusion for rural enterprises and smallholder farmers. Combining industry-leading research with hands-on technical expertise, ISF develops practical, profitable, and sustainable financial solutions.

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